Lanning reflects on role in stadium push
MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) -- Retiring state lawmaker Morrie Lanning insists that his controversial and successful campaign to help finance a $975 million Minnesota Vikings stadium did not drive him from a 39-year-career in public service. But his reputation as a diplomatic leader was never more tested.
The Moorhead Republican representative was threatened by e-mails and phone calls, chastised on blogs and snubbed by members of both parties. In the end, it took an 11th-hour deal after Lanning delivered news to the Vikings that they needed to pony up more money or the largest state project in Minnesota history was off.
"A majority of the people didn't think it was going to happen because there was a lot of opposition," said Lanning, the chief House sponsor of the stadium bill. "I never gave up hope. But even up until the very last night I was realistic to know it could fall apart."
The plan calls for the state to pay $348 million from tax revenue that's projected to come from an expansion of low-stakes gambling on pull-tabs and bingo. The city of Minneapolis is putting up $150 for construction. The Vikings are responsible for $477 million, which would include other sources like naming rights and a contribution from the NFL.
Lanning told the Vikings near the end of the session that lawmakers wanted the organization to up its original ante by $50 million. Team officials didn't take it well, he said.